Senate Republicans are once again pushing for tougher ethics reforms that will hold politicians more accountable and better equip officials to investigate public corruption. On Jan. 27, they announced several much-needed and long-overdue reforms to help restore Illinoisans’ faith in their state government. The legislation was filed as Senate Bill 3636.
During the announcement press conference, the Republican senators said SB 3636 will help ensure that lawmakers are looking out for their constituents rather than special interests, and that it will give prosecutors and the Attorney General enhanced tools to effectively investigate and prosecute public officials who break the law.
Specifically, Senate Bill 3636:
- Prohibits a General Assembly member, their spouse, or any immediate family member from lobbying as long as the individual is a member of the General Assembly.
- Prohibits a legislator during their term of office from negotiating employment with a lobbying firm (such as a job after their term of office), if that firm lobbies the General Assembly.
- Strengthens the revolving door for General Assembly members to prohibit them from lobbying for 12 months after leaving office (currently 6 months).
- Limits a lobbyist’s political activity so that anyone who is a lobbyist cannot be an officer for a candidate’s political committee or be a candidate supported by a political action committee.
- Expands the authority of a statewide grand jury to investigate and indict offenses involving the corruption of a public official, to include theft, fraud, extortion, or a violation of the official misconduct and public contracts articles of the criminal code of 2012.
- Expands Illinois’ R.I.C.O. law to include bribery, official misconduct, solicitation of misconduct, and legislative misconduct.
The announcement of SB 3636 comes on the heels of the resignation of former Legislative Inspector General (LIG) Carol Pope. Currently, that position remains vacant after Democrat members of the Legislative Ethics Commission failed to accept the recommended candidate brought forward by an independent search committee and instead want to hand pick their own candidate.
On January 6, following Pope’s resignation, Senate Republicans announced Senate Bill 3030, which would give the LIG more power to investigate potential corruption.
Neither Senate Bill 3030 or Senate Bill 3636 have been released from the Senate’s Assignments Committee.